The Jets have so many needs to address in the draft next year, that they can pretty much draft "Best Player Available", and still be relatively assured that one of their needs will be met. Also, they should have more of a long term view in 2013 vs. the "win-now" mentality of the past 5 years, so they should not be looking to trade up for one dynamic player in a particular area of need to push them over the top. Value is the watchword next year. Trading back may well fit in also.
Having said that, no draft is strictly BPA. team needs simply can not be ignored. It may be worthwhile to look at next year's draft, to find the positions that offer the most relative value, and to see how these fit in with the Jets biggest areas of weakness.
This post is based on draft rankings determined by NFL Draft Scouts.com (via CBS Sports updated 11/26/2012). It takes the top 200 prospects from the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, and each player is assigned a value ranking (for example, the top prospect from 2012, Andrew Luck, is assigned 200 points, and so on down to the 200th prospect, Nick Foles, who is assigned 1 point). The assumption is that there can be at least a reasonable chance of expecting a starter-level quality player out of the first 6 rounds, but higher rounds obviously have a much greater chance. The total ranking points are simply added up by position by year. The final column on the right shows which positions in 2013 offer greater or lesser value than the other 2 most recent years. We can then get an idea about what positions offer the greatest quantity and quality in 2013 vs. the past 2 years, and that may help plan the drafting strategy.
Of course, the Jets strategy will change based on a variety of factors: 1) How the current Jets players play out the year, 2) Which Jet FA's should and can be resigned, 3) What other FA's are available at the right price in the NFL next offseason, and finally 4) the most important of all, how the draft prospects all shake out in the Jets Big Board next April. Still, this gives us a good place to start. Lets look at each position and see what the draft strategy may look like for the Jets:QUARTERBACK. Despite repeated comments like "2013 is a bad QB year", its simply not true. 2013 actually has by far the most QB depth than in the previous 2 years. Colleges are churning out great athletes at the QB position, and QB play has become much more dynamic in the NCAA. Yes, there are no Andrew Lucks or RG3s, but there haven't been so many intriguing prospects in years: Geno Smith (10th rated 2013 prospect), Matt Barkeley (18th), Tyler Wilson (27th), Ryan Nassib (43rd), EJ Manuel (50th), Aaron Murray (55th), Zac Dysert (62nd), Tyler Brae (85th), Mike Glennon (93rd), and so on.
If your strategy is "I won't consider a QB until a can't miss franchise QB becomes available", then you're playing fantasy football, and don't have an interest in giving your team the best chance to win. If your strategy is "the Jets should just go with Sanchez next year because they have too many other holes", then you're consciously ignoring one of the best QB years in terms of depth at one of the Jets greatest areas of need. 1) The QB position is by far the most important in football, 2) The Jets have a large need at QB, 3) 2013 is a great year for 2-3 Rd QB's. What does that tell you? Don't be surprised or disappointed at all if the Jets take a QB relatively early next year.
RUNNING BACK. This is a problem. Its pretty much mandatory that the Jets enter 2013 with a better lead RB than they have now, and this back needs to be more versatile in his skills. The problem is that 2013 is a weak year at the top end of the RB class. The Jets may wait until the 3rd or 4th round and hope that one they like becomes available. Alternatively, they may need to go the FA route for the short term. Veteran RBs are pretty cheap these days.
WIDE RECEIVER. 2013 is about average here, much better than 2011, but much weaker than 2012. The Jets strategy at WR all depends on the plans for Santonio Holmes. If they can't find a feasible way to move him, than they will go with Holmes, Kerley and Hill next year. Not the greatest corps of WRs in the NFL to be sure, but not a great area of need either. The Jets just have to hope that Hill improves with experience.
TE. Sigh, man the Jets could use a better TE, and especially a better blocker. Would fit this offense perfectly. Its not a particularly deep year, though. It doesn't look like they will be in a position to go after Eifert (ranked 30th). The Stanford TE Ertz (42nd) is a possibility in the 2nd Rd.
TACKLE and GUARD. Well, in my opinion anyway, the decline of the Jets Oline has to be halted and reversed. The Jets offense can not be transformed into a good finesse unit in the short term, and so it has to be reliant on a more mauling OLine, like it was in 2009/2010. And they may be just be one more elite OLineman away from getting there. I would think Ferguson, Mangold and Howard are going to start. They can also choose another starter from the mediocre Guards Slauson, Moore and Ducasse. But they need another impact player here. Imo it can either be at Guard or Tackle, because Howard is a better run blocker than pass blocker and may be more suited to Guard anyway.
Tackle and especially Guard are nicely filled with 1st Rd prospects this year. But for the Jets, this position may be more suited for the 2nd Rd and there appears to be good value at where the Jets will likely be picking. My favorite is DJ Fluker from Alabama (51st ranked prospect). 6'6" 335. "For a drive-blocking, power-based scheme, Fluker ranks as one of the top right tackle prospects in the entire country." (NFL Scouts).
DEFENSE. NOSEGUARD/DT. What to do here? Resign Pouha for cheap and hope he returns to form? Hope Ellis improves? Or go for one in the draft. The decline in NT play has affected the whole Jets D this year in terms of stopping the run. And recent drafts have shown that teams really value this position more than mock drafts do. Though there are clearly other needs and I wouldn't do it myself, I wouldn't be completely shocked if the Jets went here early. Lotulelai is compared to Ngata and is the 2nd prospect on the Board. You also have in the top 20: Hankins, Richardson, Williams, and Jenkins.
ILB. I just don't see taking Teo, even if he is available. Don't get me wrong. His intangibles are off the charts and the Jets could really use some leadership. But he probably won't be there anyway, and we just can't trade up this year in any scenario except QB. Unless Harris can be moved (doubtful), expect to see Harris and Davis next year.
OLB/DE. OK Joe, here you go. Premium players all over the Board here. Great year for edge rushers. Take your pick. Best class of the last 3 years. Clowney would really push it over the top - guy looks like Lawrence Taylor.
STRONG SAFETY. Terrible year here. Surely, the Jets can sign one of their 3 guys, preferably Landry.
FREE SAFETY. Excellent year here relative to the past, the best of any position Josh Bush hasn't shown much to be the guy we need and looks like he's more of a depth player. There's only 1 first Rd grade, Eric Reid 24th, and I doubt the Jets are in that market, but there is decent value here in every RD starting in Rd 3.
1st RD: OLB/DE. Possibilities include Jones (3rd), Werner (7th), Mingo (12th), Montgomery (16th), Mosley (21st), Okafor (23rd).
2RD: OLine: Thomas (47th), Aboushi (49th), Fluker (51st)
3rd Rd: RB: Montee Ball (90th), Stepfan Taylor (91st) or FS: Vaccaro (75th), Jefferson (78th)
4th -6th Rd: OLB, RB/FS, TE, NT
The wildcard is what the new GM's thinks of the QB's. There are QBs to be had both in FA and in the draft. If Sanchez is the only starter for 2013, I figure I'll just hibernate. Wake me up in April 2014.